Usain Bolt: Investigating Fastest Sprinter in History’s Uneven Stride

University researchers investigating speedster's nontraditional running style.

Studying Usain Bolt's Uneven Stride on the Eve of His Retirement
Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after winning gold in the Men's 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images for IAAF)

After last year’s summer Olympics in Rio, Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter in history, said he was calling it quits. But as he winds down his professional running career, experts are still trying to figure out what makes him so fast.

As The New York Times notes, researchers at Southern Methodist University have honed in on Bolt’s stride. Here’s the Times‘ Jeré Longman: “His right leg appears to strike the track with about 13 percent more peak force than his left leg. And with each stride, his left leg remains on the ground about 14 percent longer than his right leg.”

One would suspect that an uneven stride might slow a runner down, but the researchers have set out to prove that wrong—but also keep tabs on the other side of things: Were Bolt to have an even stride, would that have made him even more superhuman?

Bolt is set to make his final appearances as a pro runner at the world championships in London next month.

Until then, watch Bolt’s highlight reel from the 2016 Rio games.

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